What If Powell Had Run – And Won- In 1996?

Colin Powell officially endorsed Barack Obama for President today after much speculation that he might….eventually. Should it matter that a former Secretary of the State endorses the candidate for the opposing political party? Does the fact that Colin has some African heritage like Barack give more weight to it? Does the timing help being that it’s a little more than 2 weeks from election day? Is this the death knoll to the McCain campaign  – which has become a rallying cry for every racist to come out of the woodwork?
Powell’s reasoning for his support:
“I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that’s why I’m supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain.”   POW! 
“This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign,” Powell said. “But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist.  Well, then, why do we keep talking about him?”  BAM!

Powell said McCain’s choice of Palin raised questions about judgment.  “I don’t believe she’s ready to be president of the United States,” Powell said.   ZAP!

There you have it.

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I’d love to be able to rewind time back to the 1996 election. Powell was rumored to have been considering a run against an incumbent Bill Clinton. Now that would have been an election to remember! The Republicans held a majority in both the House and Senate. They had control of the corporate media. They had a very organized machine and a united party. 
Clearly there were and are some who would have never supported a Powell candidacy, but I can’t help but wonder if other more moderate Republican voices had seized the moment and convinced him to go for it anyway. That would have been a real gangsta move! Powell was held in such high regard and had impeccable credentials. He could have been an excellent President depending on how much influence the Neo-Cons would’ve had over the direction and platform. Clinton was in trouble politically and of course we now see just how much trouble was to come. He would not have been elected at all but for the inadvertent assist he received from Ross Perot shaving off enough votes from Bush Sr. for him to eek out a win. 
Clinton could not have afforded to alienate the Black vote (mules that we were) by attacking Powell racially like he did to Obama. The Democrats were not united. This was before September 11th. People were not as scared or hurting financially as they are now. Where would the prejudiced Republicans have gone? To the Democratic party? That’s doubtful. This was 12 years ago and I’m sure they would’ve been told to suck it up.
This was the brilliantly strategic move the Republicans should have chosen. Many Blacks would have voted for Powell and perhaps even switched parties because we’re not all socially liberal. It would have been the death knoll to the Clinton campaign and I think he would have won. We would have had a moderate Republican who supported reproductive rights, fought wars well and is an intelligent and thoughtful man. 
We may have been able to dodge the Bush Jr. bullet and quell the rise of the Neo-Con facists who have scorched this nation and caused almost irrevocable damage to the hopes and dreams we have for it. I can’t help but think this is why Powell left the Bush administration.
When he gave his case for war in 2003 at the UN I did not believe him. I won’t claim he was lying because the official word is that the intelligence was faulty, but I don’t need a PhD in physics to know that apples will fall from trees either. Common sense and intuition are just as powerful tools of discernment. I knew the public was not being given accurate information. For his involvement with this, there will always be that stain that never quite comes out, that scarlet A on his chest. 
For Obama though this is a victorious moment where some good can triumph. Both Sec. Powell and Sen. Obama came from economically challenged backgrounds but applied themselves and succeeded. Nothing was handed to them. Obama had even considered joining the military as a means of service before he chose community organizing and moved on to politics. I am certain Powell was pressured to either endorse McCain or offer none at all. All of his praise for McCain aside I do not agree that he is fit for the office of POTUS, but then neither was Bush Jr.  True to form McCain, like a petulant child has already dismissed Powell with his version of, “I’ve got other former S.O.S. officials voting for me – so there!”

Former Mayor Willie Brown called this two months ago (in an SF Chronicle article from Aug 18th to be exact):

“Here’s a prediction: Colin Powell is going to endorse Barack Obama. I’m not pulling this out of thin air. I’m basing my forecast on a series of phone calls that I received this week. I can’t say who called me, but I can tell you one of the questions I was asked, “What do you think the reaction would be if former Secretary of State Colin Powell – a Republican – introduced Democrat Obama at his big acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium after being made the nominee?” My reply: “It would seal the deal. It would be the presidency.” I don’t think Powell will go to Denver for the Democratic National Convention, but based on the recent conversations, I have to believe that something big is in the works.”

Mr. Brown has said he thinks the delay in endorsement came by request from President Bush asking Powell to hold off on it. Just look where we are now and how some of us allowed for this by supporting the Bush and now the McCain candidacies – ultimately at the expense of us all. You know the the price for our collective ‘holding off’ has been very high, too high even. The current stakes in this election are even higher. There can be no going back unfortunately. Hopefully most of us have learned the impact of one single choice – even if that choice was to do nothing. We’ve got 16 days and counting….and all the work to come after that.

Updates with videos:

Powell On Tavis Smiley After Iowa Caucus

Powell Endorsement on Meet the Press Today

Powell Discussing His Endorsement

2 comments to What If Powell Had Run – And Won- In 1996?

  • Faith

    Yup and even the Wicked Witch of MN is trying to backpedal now.

  • nyc/caribbean ragazz

    very interesting post. I agree with you regarding 1996.This endorsement has hurt McCain regardless of how his campaign and Rush spin it.